Outsports had a powerful presence at the 2018 New York City Pride. | Photo courtesy of Outsports

At 51, Pride Month doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot to me. 

At least, it hasn’t meant a lot for a while. Been there, done that. I’ve literally seen it all.

People arrested for being gay. A business in West Hollywood proudly proclaiming they don’t want gays.

I’ve had eggs thrown at me on the street in WeHo. Multiple times. I’ve had idiot managers of athletes and players unions tell me to not ask athletes about their LGBTQ acceptance. 

And that acceptance level of gay athletes is far beyond anything almost anyone recognizes.

I came out when I was 23, in the mid-to-late 1990s. At the time, the President of the United States opposed my right to marry. He was, some may be shocked to learn, a Democrat. 

He wasn’t alone, joined by mostly a chorus of Republicans.

At that time, and for years after, I couldn’t serve openly as a gay man in the military. Not that I’d want to. Yet I have military members in my family. If they were gay and out, they couldn’t serve openly. The work of David Mixner rings true.

Yes, you read that right. In my adult life, LGBTQ people willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedoms were kicked out of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines simply for being who they are.

When I started living my life as a gay man, HIV and AIDS were scary. 

I remember crying in my car on my way to hear the results of my first HIV test. I was so worried that I had done something — even protected sex with another man — that might end my life.

That test, along with every one I’ve routinely gotten since, came back negative. Yet the emotions of that time I will never forget.

When I came out, the idea of a gay athlete was impossible. One of the most formative moments of my life was meeting Jim Buzinski at a booth for the L.A. gay flag football league at LA Pride in West Hollywood Park in 1996.

Just a few years later, Jim and I would start Outsports.

As I gravitated to sports and covering the NFL in particular, playing in the gay flag football league in Los Angeles, and jumping into pick-up games with Lambda Basketball, my increasingly gay social circle called me “straight-acting.”

My natural draw to sports — stemming from watching Boston Celtics games in the 1980s with my dad —was somehow an act to many gay guys. To my gay friends, I was an actor playing a part, a role written for me by straight society.

I’m told by kids today that I’m old. I guess I am. 

I wear that as a badge of courage.

Jim and I talk a lot about how to effectively reflect the struggles of gay people from yesterday in a framework that LGBTQ people of today will understand.

It’s really hard. 

How do you tell a gay teenager in 2024, with all the rights and liberties we have in America, about Patricia Nell Warren and “The Front Runner”? How do you convey the story of Tom Waddell and the first Gay (Olympic) Games

Today, Outsports — an online space where LGBTQ athletes share their stories — is taken for granted. 

Again, that’s a badge of courage.

And that might be the greatest compliment we could receive.

Twenty-five years after starting Outsports, this Pride Month has reminded me of why Jim and I started this website, a crazy idea at the time in 1999.

Sam Philips is an NCAA gymnast. He has competed openly as a gay man for Nebraska, and now he’s headed to Illinois to complete his NCAA career.

Jim and I were on a Pride-related conference call with Philips recently, and he said something that has stuck with me ever since.

“Having an Outsports article for a gay athlete is like a rite of passage,” he said.

When Jim and I started Outsports, that was the last thing on our minds. At the time, we were more interested in how long the Buffalo Bills would give the Doug Flutie experiment.

Today, we’re so proud that this website we created on a whim during a Provincetown vacation has become a beacon of hope for so many.

So yes, “Happy Pride.”

May every LGBTQ person in sports find what we’re doing here, and find the courage to come out in their life. 

And for those who don’t, please know you have a home at Outsports. This process for you may not be easy, but you have support and a “chosen family” waiting for you.